The Graphic Design School, which has a fabulous one-year online intensive program (I may be biased because I'm a graduate of the program, but I think it's super), hired me to create a set of cartoon characters for their new "Design Exercises" (DEX) offerings. The design brief was, at its simplest, to combine design techniques and elements with exercise concepts.
I looked at a lot of existing cartoons, icons, and other graphic elements of design-related objects, and also at a lot that covered exercise-related activities. Here are a bunch of the rough ideas combining the two:
The ones with the hearts were the ones I chose to work up into more refined sketches. Most of them made it to the final project, but a few were swapped out for new ideas.
At the same time as I came up with the rough ideas, I was also working on some sample characters. Here are three of the styles that I sketched up, with some variety in torso length, head size, and other attributes.
Once we decided on a style (with the additional note to make the female characters a bit more shapely and a bit less boxy), I created some samples with the same proportions, bringing in some of the exercise and design elements.
On approval of those, we moved on to bringing more of the characters to life, keeping consistency with the body proportions and illustration style.
The final delivery consisted of ten characters, as well as an assortment of smaller cartoons of objects and concepts used in exercise/sport and design. It also included a repeating pattern made from the characters, the smaller cartoons, and a variety of words relating to design concepts.
(Repeating patterns are fun to make, although it was slightly traumatic to chop off some of these characters' hands and legs in order to move them to the other side of the pattern, in order to create a true unbroken flow when the pattern repeats.)
A big thank you to The Graphic Design School for hiring this grad for a very fun project!